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Work together in ministriescomment (0)

March 8, 2012

By Jean Roberson

It usually starts when she comes to the church or by your house in need. Maybe she is unable to pay her housing bill and is facing eviction and homelessness. Maybe she is in need of clothes. Maybe she is one of many teenagers who are pregnant and hopeless about their future. 

As you listen to her, you begin to remember others who have come to you for help with these same issues. Knowing that God calls believers to minister to those in need, you begin to look for a way to help. What ministry can be started to help? 

That is when problems can arise if we are not careful.

If people are coming to you in need of clothes, then it makes sense to start a clothing ministry. At least it makes sense until you realize there are already two clothing ministries in the area.  

If people are coming to you in need of help paying rent, then it makes sense to start a benevolence ministry. At least it makes sense until you realize they are utilizing the benevolence ministry of the church down the street. 

In light of such need, how do you begin ministries that are effective and don’t just duplicate what other churches and ministries are doing?

When looking at your community, do needs assessments. Needs assessments are basically identifying the needs that are evident in the area. This may come from personal conversations with those in need or through networking contacts with those in your town.  

The step that is often missed is asking those contacts what ministries are already in the area. If a ministry exists to meet a particular need, then look for a way to help that does not reinvent the wheel. Especially in tough economic times, we must be good stewards of the money we invest in ministries. 

These ministries should not just make us feel good about helping. They also should be effective.  

So if there is already a benevolence ministry in the area, then why not try an educational ministry that seeks to equip people with skills to find better employment? If there is already a clothing ministry in your town, then what about partnering with it to provide the items that are in highest demand such as socks and underwear? If there are pregnant teens in your schools, then how can you work with the schools to provide parenting classes and discover ways to invest in those girls?

An additional benefit to finding those gaps in ministries is that it enables us to build stronger partnerships with the churches and ministries around us. And when we work together, rather than just duplicate each other, our communities can be stronger as well.

A Takeaway Value …

Before starting a new ministry, discover what is already available. Then find the new thing! 

EDITOR’S NOTE — Jean Roberson, MSW, LCSW, is a ministry consultant for national Woman’s Missionary Union. She serves as team leader for the adult team and director of Christian Women’s Job Corps/Christian Men’s Job Corps and International Initiatives.

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